Sunday, April 29, 2012

Skeleton Picnic (A.J.D. Books Mystery) by Michael Norman


 Synopsis :

Third generation Kanab, Utah residents, Rolly and Abigail Rogers, come from a long line of dedicated pot hunters who scour the desert southwest in search of valuable antiquities. When the couple fails to return from a weekend skeleton picnic, (pot hunting trip)along the desolate Arizona Strip, local Sheriff Charley Sutter turns to BLM Law Enforcement Ranger J.D. Books for help.

When Books searches the missing couple’s home for clues about their disappearance, he discovers the house has been burglarized and a valuable collection of ancient Anasazi and Fremont Indian antiquities stolen. Soon a search and rescue operation finds the Rogers’ truck and trailer at an abandoned campsite near an ancient Anasazi ruin that has been recently excavated. Footprints and other evidence lead Books to conclude that the couple may have been overpowered by a small group of unknown assailants.

 As Books close in on those responsible, Books’ own survival skills will be tested where the hunter becomes the hunted, and only one person gets to go home alive.

While this story managed to highlight the issue of pot hunting – illegal excavation of ancient Indian artifacts (jewelry, pottery, arrowheads, etc.), it failed to ignite my interest and curiosity on this issue.

The story is pretty boring from beginning to end and more like a narration rather than story telling. It lacked excitement and thrill and halfway through the book, I decided to ‘quick read’ it and am I glad I did so as the ending was as expected and pretty mellow as well.

The main character, J.D. Books is not an interesting character to me and other than the fact that he’s a coffee nazi who brews his coffee, there’s nothing about him that charms me, a reader.  The rest of the characters are equally one dimensional to me.

This is the second book under the J.D. Books series. The title of the first book was On Deadly Ground.  I don’t think I’ll be reading any of this series anytime soon.

Published by Poisoned Pen Press, Skeleton Picnic was released in April 2012.  I did this review for Netgalley.com.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

The Firm by John Grisham

Synopsis :

The law student : He was young and had his dreams. He'd qualified third in his class at Harvard, now offers poured in from every law firm in America.

The firm :  They are small, but well-respected.  They were prepared to match and then exceed Mitch McDeere's wildest dreams - eighty thousand a year, a BMW and a low interest mortgage.

Soon the house, the car and the job are his.  Then the nightmares begin : the secret files, the bugs in the new bedroom, the mysterious deaths of colleagues and the millions of dollars of mob money pouring through the office into the Cayman Islands, dollars that the FBI will do anything to trace.

Now Mitch stands alone in the place where dreams end and nightmares begin....

The Firm is as exciting to read now as it was years ago.  This to me, this is a classic novel, worthy to be called a thriller.

I can't remember how many times I read these since I bought the book almost 18 years ago (I wrote the year I bought it in the inside cover).  Each time I read it, years apart, I would consider it time well spent.

Mitch McDeere is a classic character, full of charm, wit and extremely clever.  I guess you have to be clever in order to take on the mob and get away with it. Took on the mob did Mitch McDeere and got away with it did he too.

Same goes to many other characters in this book - Abby, Mitch's wife, Doris/Tammy, his assistant and even the mob lawyers like Avery and Oliver and Nathan Locke were quite characters too.  Even Terrance, the FBI agent has his moment too.  

My interest in this wonderful book of which I can't sing enough praises :) was actually re-ignited recently when I saw that a new series with the same title is currently showing in AXN.  The series actually follows the story of Mitch and his family 10 years after this book took place.  I can't decide if I like the series as yet as I only managed to watch bits and pieces here and there  Have you seen it? Do you like it?



Sunday, April 22, 2012

Old Friends

For some reason, I have decided to revisit some old friends that I have with me. They are :

  • The Firm by John Grisham
    • If Tomorrow Comes by Sidney Sheldon
    • Master of The Games by Sidney Sheldon
    • Windmills of The Gods by Sidney Sheldon
    I have them and many others in my collection for all these years but along the way, some were lost (most were borrowed out and never returned and I might have just misplaced some.)

    Even though I have a lot of new books waiting for me to read, I felt it's time to put that aside and spend some times with these faithful friends who have never failed me before and I know they will deliver again.

    In fact, I am bring them along for my forthcoming trips :)  We're going to have so much fun together!

    Can't wait, guys. :)

    Thursday, April 19, 2012

    Twilight's Last Gleaming by Robert Jeffress


    Synopsis :

    As the sun sets on a once-great nation, American Christians face a vital question : What Now?

    It's evening in America. The remarkable society whose light once shone as a beacon t the world is dimming.  This is the sobering assessment of Robert Jeffress in Twilight's Last Gleaming, yet he brings that diagnosis a remarkably redemptive and hope-filled prescription for American believers.

    It's  timely message. Rarely in U.S. history have Christians been more discouraged and fearful about our country's future. Now Dr Jefress points a way out of this malaise, calling believers to action - not to restore empire's glory, but to make an eternal impact on millions of eternal souls.

    With a forward by Governor Mike Huckabee, here is a bold road map to guide your attitudes and action in these volatile last days.

    This is a rather difficult book to read and to review.  First of all, I am not from the United States.  Such, I am not able to fully identify with everything that the author raised but I can follow his train of thoughts and concerns that he has.

    There are 7 chapters in the book. They are :

    1. The Beginning of the End
    2. When a Nation Implodes
    3. The Most Misunderstood Word in America
    4. How a Christian Should Voe
    5. For Pastors Only
    6. When Persecution Comes
    7. Last-Days Living

    Dr Jeffress did raise some good points in all his chapters although he seems rather hash in some of his opinions.  He is very assertive in his view on what he think is right and what he think is wrong.  He might offend some people with such views but taking it positively, it is really an eye-opener as he dares to write about what I feel most people might be thinking and feeling but not having the courage to openly talk about it.

    My favourite chapters are For Pastors Only and Last-Days Living for the challenges that he put forth for Christians.  It is my personal opinion that the book is extremely thought provoking and provoked positively, can raise someone out of slumber. Provoked wrongly, might cause some to stumble.  It's a very fine thin line that those who read it have to draw for themselves.

    This hardcover copy is published by Worthy Publishing.  Thank you B&B Media for this review copy.

    Monday, April 16, 2012

    Girl In The Mirror by Cecilia Ahern

    Two powerful and unforgettable stories from the Number One bestselling author

    Girl in the Mirror
    Lila knows how lucky she is to have found the man of her dreams. But when a secret from her family's past comes to light on her wedding day, her destiny changes in the most unexpected of ways…

    The Memory Maker
    They say you never forget your first love. But what happens when those cherished memories start to fade? Some people would do anything to hold on to the past and, for one heartbroken man, that means finding a way to relive those precious moments



    Girl In The Mirror is a collection of two mini novels by Cecilia Ahern.  I have always admire Cecilia's imagination and I think she is letting her imagination run wild in these two stories.  I also felt that these two stories are probably close to her heart and she's publishing them more for self indulgence rather than for commercial value. 

    I really enjoyed both stories but my favourite is Girl In The Mirror. While the late Michael Jackson sang about The Man In The Mirror, he was referring to one self.  On the other hand, when Cecilia wrote about Girl In  The Mirror, she certainly wasn't on the same page with Michael.  It's rather creepy and sad but rather fascinating at the same time. I was wondering if Cecilia could have developed the storyline further?

    The Memory Maker was just okay for me although again, imaginative of Cecilia.  I wonder what other gems she is still keeping to herself :) that she hasn't shared with us.








     

    Friday, April 13, 2012

    Dust to Dust by Tami Hoag

    Synopsis :

    Sorry - the single word was written on a mirrow.  In front of it hung the Minneapolic Internal Affairs cop.  Was it suicide? Or a kinky act turned tragic?

    Either way, it wasn't murder. At elast not according to the powers that be.  But veteran homicide detective Sam Kovac and his wisecracking, ambitious partner Nikki Liska think differently.  Together they begin to dig at the too-neat edges of the young cop's death, uncovering one motive and one suspect after another. The shadows of suspicion fall not only on the city's elite, but into the very heart of the police department.  Someone wants the case closed - quickly and forever.  But neither Kovac nor Liska will give up.  Now both their careers and their lives are on the line.  From a murder case two months old to another case closed for twenty years.  Kovac and Liska must unearth a connection the killer wants dead and buried.  A killer who will stop at absolutely nothing to keep a dark and shattering secret.

    A bookseller recommended me to Tami once upon a time when I asked him which other author writes good thriller and he said Tami Hoag is quite popular.  I didn't take up his recommendation at that time.

    Fast forward to many years later, I remember the recommendation and decided to give Tami a try. Dust to Dust is my first Tami Hoag book.  It took me a rather long time to finish reading Dust to Dust not due to lack of interest but more due to the fact that everything was rather slow and that both Kovac and Liska weren't particularly endearing characters to me.

    Having said that, it is a good thriller with a rather good ending.  There's actually two cases that the detectives solved which are unrelated but which in their investigation, they thought the cases were related.  That was rather confusing for me especially when it took me so long to complete, I kinda forgot the details of what I read earlier.

    I can't say I will go and pick up another Tami Hoag immediately but I would keep her in view for future consideration.

    Monday, April 9, 2012

    Blowing My Cover – My Life As A CIA Spy by Lindsay Moran


    Lindsay Moran is a freelance writer whose articles have appeared in The New York Times, The Washington Post and USA Today. From 1998 – 2003, she worked as a case officer for the CIA. This is her story....I think.

    Synopsis :

    Lindsay Moran was a bright-eyed idealistic Harvard graduate who hoped to serve her patriotic duty while living a life she’d first dreamed of as a child watching James Bond movies and reading Harriet the Spy. After applying to the CIA and passing llie detector tests, background investigations and psychological screenings, she soon found herself in training at The Farm, learning how to crash cars through barriers at a hundred miles an hour, not to mention how to withstand interrogation.

    However, she also learns that life of a spy wasn’t nearly the glamorous – not to mention principled – job she thought it would be. Her first posting, to Macedonia, confirmed it and she witnessed firsthand the culture inside an organisation whose intelligence failures led to tragic results during her own tenue.

    I thought it would be quite intriguing to get a chance to have an undiluted look at life being a CIA. The truth is, it certainly wasn’t as exciting as the movies. (p.s. it never is, isn’t it?) I was really looking forward to reading this but I kinda fall asleep halfway through and it’s only by sheer determination that I managed to complete it.

    Friday, April 6, 2012

    Trinny and Suzanne : The Survuvor Guide


    Trinny and Suzanne claimed on the cover that this is 'A woman's secret weapon for getting through the year'.  While I quite like what I saw of Trinny and Suzanne on TV, I wasn't sure if they actually have any secret weapon for woman to get through the year.  It's rather a bold claim and unfortunately I don't think the book live up to the claim.

    According to these two ladies, 'Inside are all the nuggets of advice we've gleaned from our mothers, sisters and girlfriends, as well as those they've learned from us.  Each day women ask us how we cope with such busy lives. here we're sharing the best of what we've learned over the years.  We hope this book will inspire you to keep your life smooth and organised, as well as help you to look and feel great all year round'.

    The book start with January and move on to December.  In between, Trinny and Suzanne gave tips on organising parties, sharing their favourite shopping destination in UK and in other fashion cities in the world like Milan, Paris, New York, etc.   They share tips on packing, on meditation, among others. While some might find their tips useful, some (like me) would find them rather juvenile.

    This would set me back RM70 (about US$30) if I bought it but since I didn't, the only set back would be the time that I wasted on it.

    Tuesday, April 3, 2012

    Easter Read - Someday (Sunrise Series) by Karen Kingsbury

    It's going to Easter soon and like last year, the family is thinking of hibernating the weekend away.  We are thinking of the beach this time for our Easter break instead of a city hotel.  You can tell that we are looking forward to it as it's the only thing we talk about all the time and if you have a peek into the checklist of stuff we intend to bring, you will probably think we're going on a month long trip instead of just for the weekend.

    At the same time, I realized that I haven't packed any novels for the trip and looking through the shelf, Someday seems to be the perfect choice.


    Someday is the third book of the Sunrise Series by Karen Kingsbury.  In Someday,we will read about a desperate situation involving Dayne and Katy, a heartbreaking loss felt by those that used to be involved in Christian Kids Theatre (CKT) but we will also that it's a season of hope for the Baxter's family.

    I think that's a wonderful Easter message when God turn our mourning into dancing, our sorrow into joy and the promise of a future full of hope...in Him.

    Wishing you a Happy Easter.